"This is an exhibition about my home, Papunya, and my law and culture, and about my youthful years, when I sat with all my dear fathers and uncles and grandfathers, and watched them as they painted the first boards and early canvases in Papunya and its camps ... But it is also an exhibition about Alice Springs, the town that first saw and appreciated and loved western desert art ... This exhibition is a bridge between these two worlds: a precious bridge."
Alison Anderson, Papunya's most famous daughter and now NT Minister for Indigenous Advancement and Regional Development, today added her own "unique perspective" to the exhibition of that name, mostly drawn from local private collections, that she opened at the Araluen Arts Centre. She called on those who love the art to be happy with its "beautiful surface", to not try "to see behind the veil", to not delve into its "inner secrets". (Ms Anderson is pictured speaking with visitors to the show.)
In a first for Papunya Tula Artists, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, one of the company's most famous living painters, has agreed to license some of his art to be used in a commercial product. Two of his existing paintings, Rain Making At Malparingya and Echidna Dreaming At Tjungaringya, have been adapted for use on iPhone covers by a Melbourne-based company called Cygnett. Others artists being used for the covers include the Tats Cru, "legends" in the New York City street art scene and Nathan Jurevicius, an Australian US-based graphic novelist, illustrator and now animator. So Tjampitjinpa is in very trendy company. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Papunya Tula artists at the National Gallery of Victoria last year with curator Judith Ryan. From left, they are Bobby West Tjupurrula, Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa and Mike Tjakamarra. They are standing in front of a 1991 work by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Wartunuma.
A major exhibition on the origins of Western Desert art is set to open at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris in October. Curated by Judith Ryan and Philipp Batty for the National Gallery of Victoria, Tjukurrtjanu opened in Melbourne last year, examining "a watershed moment in the history of art when a painting practice emerged at Papunya". More than 160 of the first paintings produced there during 1971 and 1972 will be shown in Paris, together with almost 100 objects and photographs from the period.
The Paris exhibition is just one of the events occurring in the second half of this year that gives Papunya Tula Artists – the desert's oldest painting company and still the benchmark of independence and achievement – reason to be optimistic. KIERAN FINNANE reports.